The IRS and Syria…investigative reporting must reads

Yesterday’s New York Times had excellent investigative stories about two of today’s major news stories.

First, Nicholas Confessore, David Kocieniewski and Michael Luo give you the real inside story on how the IRS managed, or more accurately mismanaged, operations in its Exempt Organizations Division in Cincinnati that has resulted in all the partisan turmoil in Washington.

Second, Thomas Friedman, who we usually just read on the opinion pages, tells how the intersection of climate change and the deregulation of agriculture land in Syria laid the foundation of Syria’s revolution.

(A)fter Assad took over in 2000 he opened up the regulated agricultural sector in Syria
for big farmers, many of them government cronies, to buy up land and drill as much water
as they wanted, eventually severely diminishing the water table. This began driving small
farmers off the land into towns, where they had to scrounge for work.

Then, between 2006 and 2011, some 60 percent of Syria’s land mass was ravaged by
the drought and, with the water table already too low and river irrigation shrunken, it
wiped out the livelihoods of 800,000 Syrian farmers and herders, the United Nations
reported. “Half the population in Syria between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers left the
land” for urban areas during the last decade, said Aita. And with Assad doing nothing to
help the drought refugees, a lot of very simple farmers and their kids got politicized.

These two stories represent the best in investigative reporting.  Not only do they contribute to our understanding of important issues but they demonstrate how critical it is that we have print reporters to do this kind of hard, time-consuming investigative work.



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